United Kingdom retail sales hold up despite Brexit turmoil

  • United Kingdom retail sales hold up despite Brexit turmoil

United Kingdom retail sales hold up despite Brexit turmoil

Retail sales jumped in the three months to April, buoyed by warmer weather and online shopping, suggesting Brexit uncertainty has failed to stop consumers spending.

Philipp Gutzwiller, head of retail at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: 'A fourth consecutive month of sales growth, buoyed by exceptional weather over the Easter bank holiday weekend, will have no doubt helped further boost the confidence of retailers across the United Kingdom'.

Retail sales volume remained unchanged on month, after rising 1.2 percent in March. The retail figures contrast with the problems flagged by many well-known companies on the British high street.

Department stores suffered from store closures since a year ago, with sales dipping 0.5 per cent, while household goods stores saw a 2.9 per cent decline. Retail sales in the three months to April grew by 1.8% compared to the previous quarter, driven by a record growth of 9.4% in online sales. Sales of clothing and footwear, especially online, helped offset a slide in sales at department and food stores.

Compared with a year earlier, sales were up by 5.2% after a 6.7% annual rise in March.

Consumers continued to shop in April despite economic uncertainty with record growth seen online, official figures show.

All sectors except department stores and household goods stores showed growth in the three-month period.

"Admittedly, warmer-than-usual weather - average temperatures were 1.1C above their 1970-to-2018 April average - probably temporarily stimulated clothing sales", he added. Retail used to be simple: "consumers went to stores, browsed products, then bought what they wanted".

The figures are the latest evidence that consumer spending is holding up in the United Kingdom despite the Brexit impasse.

Ruth Gregory, senior United Kingdom economist at Capital Economics, said: "April's retail sales figures were better than most had feared, but nonetheless suggest that GDP growth will be weaker in the first quarter than the second quarter".